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Raise the bar on International Women in Engineering Day

Raise the bar on International Women in Engineering Day

 June 18, 2018

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Each year on June 23, industry celebrates the impressive and inspiring women in engineering careers. The day is designed to raise the profile of women who are excelling in engineering, as well as to inspire future generations of female talent to enter the profession. International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is hosted by the Women in Engineering Society and the 2018 campaign theme is “Raising the Bar”. Where Women Work shines a spotlight on the exceptional women who are supported by progressive employers to smash glass ceilings and make their mark in what has traditionally been a male-dominated arena.

Why are women in engineering so important to society?

A report by Engineering UK suggests that the workforce needs more than 124,000 people with level 3+ engineering skills and yet, each year, there is a shortfall of more than 56,000 qualified engineers. The same report indicates that even with the most positive projections, there are 20,000 fewer graduates studying engineering-related degrees than is required to keep pace with demand. Despite women making up more than 47% of the UK workforce overall, this figure drops significantly to only 12% when we look at women in engineering roles.

INWED 2018

Raising awareness of the brilliant career opportunities available to girls

Kirsten Bodley, Chief Executive of the Women's Engineering Society who coordinate International Women in Engineering Day believes there is significant opportunity for girls should they choose careers in STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and mathematics. "International Women in Engineering Day is now in its fifth year of celebrating the amazing success of women in engineering across the globe, raising their profile and awareness of the brilliant career opportunities available to girls - we have numerous events registered throughout the UK and also around the world from Pakistan to Canada. This international campaign is so important because young women who choose engineering, or allied sectors, find rewarding and flexible career paths are open to them. There are so many ways to get involved in INWED from holding events, debates, competitions and taking to social media and join in #RaisingtheBar for #INWED18."

Kirsten Bodley, WES INWED STEM

From the world’s largest companies through to tech-savvy start-ups, engineers are needed in order to grow, innovate and pioneer game-changing solutions - and this talent needs to be drawn from a global talent pool of people with diverse backgrounds. However, far too many women still live with limited options because they are unaware of the support they can obtain to enter exciting and challenging STEM professions. 

An industry-wide effort is required

"Engineering is about being innovative and using technology to make people's lives easier - definitely a job for a woman," says Trish White (nee Slingsby), Founder of the Slingsby Taylor small business in Adelaide, Australia. Achieving gender diversity and inclusion in the engineering sector takes effort and commitment by employers, employees, governments, and the engineering profession-at-large. "Diversity and inclusion is not something that can be achieved in isolation because an industry-wide effort is required. Engineers Australia is working hard to achieve greater balance across the engineering profession," comments Patricia. 

Trish White Engineers Australia - International Women in Engineering Day

Improving talent attraction and retention programmes for female candidates should undoubtedly maximise innovation and creativity, and help solve many of the most challenging problems faced in our modern world. 

Thankfully, there are many high-achieving women breaking the barriers to excel in their engineering careers, choosing to work for some of the most reputable and impressive employers in the world; employers like AECOM, orthrop Grumman, Diageo and many more.

Schneider Electric - International Women in Engineering Day

Senior engineer, Catherine, is proud to work for Schneider Electric

Catherine Anderton was encouraged into an engineering career by progressive parents, and she worked hard to achieve electric and electronic engineering qualifications from a young age. Now thriving in her career as a project manager with Schneider Electric, Catherine helps customers to leverage energy savings wherever possible and ultimately reduce their
carbon footprint.

As her employer, Schneider Electric have been incredibly supportive of Catherine’s career, and Catherine believes that its because of this support that she's able to successful juggle a thriving career and an equally busy home life. As a senior engineer, Catherine advises women considering an engineering role to “Go for it! There's no reason you're not as good as anyone else. If you have the aptitude and management skills then go for it. You get as much recognition as men these days whereas in some other industries you still may not.”

Bridging the parent gap

Catherine was fortunate to have parents who supported and encouraged her to explore her interest in STEM subjects from an early age. However, David Larkin, head of education at the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), feels that parents are widening the UK skills gap and discouraging young people from pursuing technical subjects such as maths, science and technology.

In a Telegraph article, the IET explains how a quarter of parents (from a poll of 1,000) admitted that their own lack of confidence in STEM subjects has affected their children’s progress. Rather than helping children with science and maths homework, three quarters rely on Google. “Parents need to be mindful of how their own confidence and enthusiasm towards certain subjects can influence and shape their children’s development from an early age,” says David.

"Connecting industry with schools to raise awareness about the benefits of an engineering career is something very close to the IET’s heart. Through our education programmes, including free teacher resources and challenges supported and developed in partnership with industry leaders, coupled with 74 School Liaison Officers (SLOs) and over 2,200 IET members registered as STEM Ambassadors, the IET works closely with schools and education organisations to inspire young people to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and see STEM as an excellent career option. Our IET STEM Ambassadors and SLOs give career talks and support careers fairs, providing advice to teachers, and helping schools make important links with industry," explains David. The IET is currently calling for entries for it's prestigious annual Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards

Amazon - Women in Engineering Day

Engineering manager Rachel, breaks through glass ceilings at Amazon

Rachel Cooke holds a master’s degree in engineering and a Ph.D. in both philosophy and chemical engineering. She leads the European Operations Engineering Services for Amazon, which means she manages teams that provide support for Amazon’s Fulfillment Centers. 

Rachel feels that Amazon is one of the defining companies of this era, offering unrivalled career opportunities. “The people I work with are fantastic, the variety of challenges, the possibility to keep learning and growing professionally, and the opportunity to work hard, have fun and make history is why I continue to build my career with Amazon. I’ve learnt that the company will do what is right for the customer, no matter how hard it might seem to achieve,” says Rachel.

Diageo - Women in Engineering Day

Chelsea at Diageo is addressing gender imbalance in STEM careers

Chelsea Riddoch loves playing the bagpipes. She's also a kickboxing black belt champ and is in training to run her own site in a rewarding role as trainee site operations manager with global drinks industry giant, Diageo. To prepare for her career, Chelsea completed a Diageo apprenticeship as a mechanical maintenance engineer. “I extremely enjoyed my engineering apprenticeship and would recommend it to anyone,” she says. 

Chelsea believes that a big challenge right now for Diageo, is competing for talent. “Careers in STEM are on the rise and our business is no different. It is also a real challenge to address gender imbalance within STEM and let girls know where at what STEM jobs are,” commented Chelsea.

AECOM - International Women in Engineering Day

Helena is changing perceptions at AECOM

Helena Rivers manages a multidisciplinary team for engineering giants, AECOM. She fell in love with engineering as a career choice at the tender age of 15 and now strives to change the perception of engineering to attract the best young people to pursue the career.

“I think the exciting, varied, rewarding career that engineering offers is one of Britain’s best kept secrets. We need to educate our children about when engineering has to offer and we need to educate their parents and teachers so they can answer their questions!" remarks Helen.

University of Sheffield faculty director Rachel, teaches a new generation of engineers

The University of Sheffield is renowned for their unwavering support in inspiring women and young people to explore STEM subjects. And, they’ve been honoured for several consecutive years with the Athena SWAN accreditation to recognise their success as ambassadors for gender equality in the Higher Education sector.

One such female leader at the University is Professor Rachel Horn. Rachel was encouraged by her teachers to attend a women in science and engineering course early on and from then on was hooked by the exciting opportunities the industry could offer. During her career she’s worked on incredible engineering and construction projects at Disneyland Paris and has enjoyed a stint at a Mayan archaeological site with Raleigh International in Belize.

Now, as a university professor and Faculty of Engineering Director of Learning and Teaching, Rachel loves her job, teaching STEM subjects to new generation of hopeful engineers.

Eaton - International Women in Engineering Day

Sustainability Analyst, Claire, is inspiring young leaders at Eaton

Young engineer, Claire Castleman is thriving in her career at global power company, Eaton, having been named as a GreenBiz ‘30 under 30’ and recipient of STEP Ahead emerging young leader for Women in Manufacturing. Claire actively supports Eaton’s Young Leaders community where she helps connect emerging talent in the organisation to communicate about relevant issues.

Claire comments, “Global manufacturing has a huge environmental and social footprint. I'm passionate about harnessing the enormous opportunity of the industry as a whole to move toward sustainable development. Manufacturers' capabilities to use advanced technology and drive toward a shared purpose can create a healthier, more just and sustainable world.”

The IET - Awards

Celebrate women in engineering via a prestigious award entry

Young women in engineering are honoured every year for their commitment and achievements in a challenging profession via the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards. The awards celebrate the impressive young women in the industry who represent the very best of their profession. Winners are given the opportunity to network with some of the sector’s most influential people, as well as attend high profile events. And, there are cash prizes, too! 

Apply by July 8 and gain the recognition you deserve!


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


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